Andscapes: As the Bug Crawls

(POM Berlin, forthcoming 2022)

Abstract

Borrowing landscape architect Martin Prominski’s term ‘andscape’, this essay attempts to forge a link between two definitions of andscape: on the one hand, as a non-dualistic approach to environment that productively problematises distinctions of subject-object, nature-culture; and, on the other hand, as emerging from an artistic practice in landscape that is rooted in epistemological questions concerning empirical measurement. My point of departure for thinking about andscapes here is a critical look at the default perspective of distance across landscapes: distance as the crow flies. A literal top-down cartographic perspective – the global point of view of satellites, planes, drones – flattens a landscape’s surface irregularities and renders the distance between two points smooth and two-dimensional. But what might be learned about a landscape if we measure its distance from a more surficial, earthbound perspective – for instance, from a bug’s point of view? If we adopt the practice of measuring as the bug crawls, what temporalities and qualities of the Earth’s surface might surface through this action? And while this practice troubles notions of scalability, what gains can be made in valuing specificity? Moreover, could an artistic read of the physical resistance of roughness evoke a political resistance to smoothness?

 

Keywords: andscape, andmeter, assemblage, cartography, scalability, situatedness, temporality

1. Introduction

 

I first came across the word ‘andscape’ in landscape architect Vilja Larjosto’s doctoral dissertation (2019), which examined the seasonal dynamics and resilience of urban islands within the frame of research-through-design in Anthropocene discourse. She employed the andscape concept to reinforce her approach to design as necessarily time-sensitive, integrative, highly adaptive, and non-anthropocentric – as embracing temporalities and variabilities, rather than flattening them with catch-all solutions. The term itself was coined in 2014 by landscape architect Martin Prominski ‘to overcome “outdated” dualisms of city versus country, or culture versus nature ... [suggesting] a productive conceptualization of an integrative practice in the Anthropocene’ (Larjosto, 2019, p. 21). Prominski used this conception of andscapes to advocate for a ‘unitary mode’ of landscape architecture where ‘the focus is on the dynamic relations between humans, animals, plants, stones, water, and all other elements in the world’ (Prominski, 2014, p. 6).

While I do not approach andscapes here from a design perspective, I do adopt this term conceptually and pivot it towards the frame of my own artistic practice in landscapes. This essay attempts to forge a link between two interpretations of the andscape: on the one hand, as a non-dualistic approach to environment that productively problematises distinctions of subject-object, nature-culture; and, on the other hand, as an artistic practice in landscape that is rooted in epistemological questions concerning empirical measurement. With my particular interest in the subjective, dynamic processes of measuring landscapes, I have adopted the term ‘andscape’ as a tool for understanding my own artistic work. In my practice, andscapes are landscapes and – emphasising the conjunction ‘and’ over ‘but’. Andscapes are spaces defined by inclusion rather than exclusion. The additive principle of the andscape makes a space for those qualities of surfaces and atmospheres that are often withdrawn, extra-sensory, or else regarded as outlying data or noise – andscapes recuperate those qualities that, when mapped, are typically edited out, dismissed as either cartographically insignificant or too complex for the purposes of a legible generalised model of spatial units. To me, an andscape is a space that we encounter and observe while simultaneously being embedded in it; where we see a messiness of confounding variables, instead of editing them out, we welcome them into the manifold. Andscapes exact worlds from worlds. Andscapes welcome multiplicity. With andscapes, there are no ‘buts’.

[The full-length essay will be available upon publication.]